DVD Title
Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice
International Title
Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice
DVD Length Original Length
89 Minutes 90 Minutes
Company Year of Manufacture
HVE 2005
Language Subtitles
Japanese English
Region Number of Discs
1 1
Aspect Ratio Sound
2.35:1 (Anamorphic) 2.0 Mono
Extras
. Menus (English)
. Chapters (16)
. Trailers: Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice, Hanzo the Razor: The Snare, Hanzo the Razor: Who's Got the Gold?
. 2 pages of liner notes by Patrick Macias found in the booklet
Captures
Review

The first DVD in HVE's Hanzo the Razor box set, the Sword of Justice should be a pleasant surprise for most. After looking at the box art and picking up the set for $40 at Best Buy, I was ready to write it off as a slapped together budget release of the movies. Upon viewing this disc, I was proven quite wrong. The Sword of Justice boasts both a solid video and audio presentation, while only lacking in regards to the extras.


 Video: Star Rating

For the most part, the video presentation on HVE's Sword of Justice is excellent. A lot of the aspects of the new transfer are done almost perfectly here. For example, the disc boasts a very vibrant array of colors, while the brightness level is set at the perfect level, with many of the films intentionally dark scenes still maintaining the intended atmosphere but with details still being readily visible. Digital inconsistencies are also unnoticeable on this DVD too, with no obvious signs of pixilation or edge enhancement, as the film looks naturally sharp.

The print used in the transfer, or at least how it appears after heavy restoration, looks to be in good shape. There are no scratches to be found here, while the amount of grain is incredibly low for a film this age. The frame isn't always stable, though. In fact, it jumps slightly during the "Katsu Productions" title card and when the main title is flashed on screen. On the plus side, these are the only two instances during the presentation that this becomes a problem.

Sadly, Sword of Justice is not a flawless transfer of the film. Although it excels in a number of areas, there are really two blemishes which drag down the presentation. One has to admire HVE for at least coming clean with the errors though, admitting to the problems at the start of the movie. As mentioned by the company, the two errors occur at around the 26 and 84 minute marks. The first is only credited as being a audio discrepancy, but the footage during this scene is also sped up to make it go by faster as well, which actually makes the error even more noticeable. The second error, the one at the 84 minute mark, is a small snippet of lost footage which causes some actors to suddenly leave the scene as the DVD turns this into a jumpcut.

Sword of Justice is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is Anamorphic for widescreen TVs.


 Audio:

A solid audio presentation overall, Sword of Justice is presented here in a 2.0 mono presentation of the film's original Japanese audio track. Overall, the audio sounds crystal clear here, with dialogue and the soundtrack being very distinct while never sounding harsh as the audio tracks sometimes do on AnimEigo's releases. Granted, the mono track itself has its limitations, and a stereo or surround mix as a added bonus would have been nice, although at least the film's original presentation style is preserved here. It should be mentioned, as HVE admits during the start of the film, that 26 minutes into the film there is about 25 seconds of dead audio space due to damage to the original source. Its a small discrepancy, although a discrepancy none the same. The audio track is accompanied by, removable, English subtitles.


 Extras: Star Rating

The disc's weakest aspect, the added content found here is very light. In the DVD's defense, though, the three trailers included (Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice, Hanzo the Razor: The Snare, Hanzo the Razor: Who's Got the Gold?) are presented very well. All three have great video and audio quality, while also being complimented by, removable, English subtitles. There is a nice essay, which appears in print format, compiled by Patrick Macias (author of Tokyoscope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion) though. The article is short, but insightful in regards to Katsu Productions and how they expanded into doing films like the Lone Wolf and Cub series.

On a side note, the, what I will call, "tunnel of love" themed main menu screen has to be one of the more unpleasent presentations found on a Toho disc. Not really for the subject matter, as it's in tune with the film, but the constant rocking motion is enough to make it incredibly disorenting. One will likely try to either start the film or go to the extras as quickly as possible after looking at it for a few seconds.


 Overview:

Bottom line, this disc is far from a pinnicale in the growing lineup of Toho related films to be found on DVD, but the video and audio, inspite of two discrepancies, are still handled well here. The disc is a real bargin too, considering that the 3 disc Hanzo the Razor set tends to retail for the price of two regular DVDs.

This disc can only be purchased in the DVD box set Hanzo the Razor.

-Anthony Romero  
Buy the Box Set